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Colin Talbot     Books     Useful Links

Colin Talbot

Colin Talbot Colin Talbot is Professor of Public Policy in the School of Sociology & Social Policy at University of Nottingham. His main area of expertise is in public services and public management reform. He has recently completed major international comparative studies on the creation of arms-length agencies; of the use of performance reporting systems; and of budget participation and scrutiny systems. He has advised Parliamentary Committees on performance and public spending issues for the Treasury, Public Administration and Welsh Affairs Committees and a wide range of international public sector organisations. He is currently directing a organisation Consortium looking at the use of performance measurement in public services.

At present he is head of the Nottingham Policy Centre (NPC), a newly established public policy research and teaching centre situated within the School of Social Policy and Sociology in the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham and is setting up a range of new public policy post graduate courses and research programmes.

Colin Talbot was on the panel at a joint The Great Debate - Newcastle Philosophy Society event: The Nature of Being Human in March 2005.


The Paradoxical Primate

The Paradoxical Primate by Colin Talbot
Human beings have an evolved but highly adaptable nature. This book sets out to establish a new framework for understanding human nature, from an evolutionary perspective but drawing on existing social sciences. It seeks to explain how human beings can appear to be so malleable in their nature, yet have an inherited set of behavioural instincts.
When the founder of sociobiology, E.O. Wilson, made a plea for greater integration of the physical and human sciences in his book Consilience, there was an underlying assumption that the traffic would be mainly one way -- from physical to human science. This book reverses this assumption and draws on a new branch of human sciences, paradoxical systems theory, to reconceptualise some of the most innovative developments from physical sciences -- the related fields of evolutionary psychology, ethology, and behavioural genetics. The new approach is also applied to politics, economics and public policy.

Agencies: How Governments Do Things Through Semi-autonomous Organizations Agencies: How Governments Do Things Through Semi-autonomous Organizations by Christopher Pollitt, Janice Caulfield, Amanda Smullen, Colin Talbot
Many countries now use agencies rather than ministries to deliver central government services. There have been many claims about the benefits of organizing and delivering government in this way, but there has been little research into how they work in practice. Agencies both reviews existing theories and models of 'agentification' and adds detailed analysis of major new empirical evidence. Based partly on a major international research project and partly on a reinterpretation of the existing literature, this book gets inside the world of agencies and ministries. An in-depth analysis of agencies in four EU countries serves as a basis for testing alternative theoretical models and developing a new approach to the complexities of contemporary government.

Unbundled Government Unbundled Government Colin Talbot (Editor)
Public sector bureaucracies have been subjected to harsh criticism. One solution which has been widely adopted over the past two decades has been to 'unbundle government' - that is to break down monolithic departments and Ministries into smaller, semi-autonomous, 'agencies'. These are often governed by some type of performance contract, are at 'arms length' or further from their 'parent' Ministry or Department and are freed from many of the normal rules governing civil service bodies. This is the first book to survey the 'why' and the 'how' of this epidemic of 'agencification', with case studies from every continent. From Japan to America and from Sweden to Tanzania, these 14 case studies (some covering more than one country) critically examine how such agencies have been set up and managed. Unbundled Government will be essential reading for advanced students and researchers of public management.

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Useful Links books by Colin Talbot

Colin Talbot: homepage at Nottingham University

Economical with the numbers, by Colin Talbot

Executive Agencies: Have They Improved Management in Government? by Colin Talbot

How the Public Sector Got its Contradictions - The Tale of the Paradoxical Primate. Integrating the Idea of Paradox in Human Social, Political and Organisational Systems with Evolutionary Psychology By Colin Talbot, Human Nature Review, 2003

Consilience and Performance in the ‘Art of the State’ by Colin Talbot

Societas: The Paradoxical Primate

Review of The Paradoxical Primate by Caspar JM Hewett

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